Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Your anxieties are not your child’s problem. As mothers, we have worried about our children since conception, but it’s not fair to voice every one of those concerns. Doing so will transfer that stress to your children, and for what? Are your concerns even rational? Some may certainly be, but others, not so much.

For example, my youngest son Parker, is heading off to college in just a few short weeks. I am so proud of Parker and I am very excited that he is reaching this milestone. However, I’m a wreck, to put it nicely. To be fair, in my mind he is still the two-year-old boy who insisted on drumming songs for me at every turn.

So I’m not sleeping at night, because I’m imagining every scenario that could possibly go wrong from the most minuscule event to worst case scenario. What if his roommates are horrendous people? What if he falls into the wrong crowd and engages in underage drinking? What if he oversleeps, misses all his classes, and then flunks out of college? He is going to starve outside my house, or get mugged, or who knows what else! I want to bombard him with every lesson I can think of before he steps foot into a dorm room and put that record on repeat.

But I cancelled the hotel reservation for the two nights after he moves into the dorm because he really doesn’t need us there “just in case.” He’ll be busy with orientations and settling in and getting to know his suite mates and figuring out where his classes are. It’s me that’s basket-casing about this step, not him.

Parker will be just fine.

This is my internal struggle. Sharing all these concerns frantically is not going to do Parker any good. He has his own anxieties, like any young adult heading off to college, and adding mine to the pile will only make things worse. This is an important independent step that my child is choosing to take, and he doesn’t need another lecture from me about how to stay safe, make good choices, or the more reasonable things, like to not ever get in a car with another human being. He’s heard it all before, and at this point, it won’t be helpful. All I will communicate is my lack of confidence in his abilities, and that could crush him. And the thing is, I am totally confident in his ability to handle this. The worry monster is my own hangup.

What Parker does need is my support.

Parker needs me to be his cheerleader. I need to encourage him in this adventure and life-forwarding step with enthusiasm and confidence, even if he decides to do something that I’m not the biggest fan of (like move across the country next year to finish his schooling and be 2,500 miles away from me or…date). If it’s legal and safe, he is an adult. It’s none of my business, other than offering support.

I can force myself to step back and be more rational with my own anxieties, because we’ve already done most of the hard work. We have spent time raising independent kids who are capable of thriving in the world without us hovering over them. What I’m struggling with are my own irrational worries, and even if they are valid, Parker must take this next step without me.  Deep down, I know that Parker will be just fine, and we are always here if he needs us. It’s simply time for him to fly solo, and even if I’m not ready, he certainly is. That’s what’s important.